When you are committed to an instrument and you practice every day, your progress will probably come in tiny steps. Sometimes musical progress can actually feel like a step backward, which can be confusing because you may temporarily feel like you’re actually getting worse.
I’ve had people tell me “Man, you are really getting your chops together” Or “Wow I wish I could practice like you!” When I felt like I was playing just as crappy as usual!
Since progress is so difficult to track, I feel like it is important to commit to a daily practice routine and stick to it for years. For one thing, the stuff you practice today might not pop into your live playing until two years from now, when your brain has fully integrated the information – we are only human and these things take time.
I also feel like it is important to do as many gigs and jam sessions as you can in order to get the feel of playing with other musicians and playing live.
My personal plan is to practice for three hours a day for 20 years. And every five years I can give myself a mental upgrade: After five years, I will be “okay”. At 10 years I will be “good”. After 15, I may be able to expect to play nice concerts and really nice tours.
And after 20 years, maybe I will be on the road to mastering my instrument.